August 12, 2004
A church proposed for northeast Scottsdale seeks approval to build higher than the city normally allows.
McDowell Mountain Community Church submitted plans last week requesting a hardship exemption to the city’s Environmentally Sensitive Land Ordinance that restricts building heights to 24 feet.
The church, planned for 6 acres on the northwest corner of Shea Boulevard and 124th Street, wants to build its worship center at 26 feet and its multipurpose room at 27 feet.
"We believe that the increased height is appropriate and compatible with the character of the neighborhood," said architect Rob Wauro of Barduson Architecture of Tempe.
City planner Greg Williams said this is the first hardship exemption requested since the ordinance was amended in May, changing allowable heights from 26 feet to 24 feet.
"This is the very first case we have had and we are being very careful in how we evaluate it," Williams said. "They are going to have to prove and justify the need to go beyond 24 feet."
Wauro said the requested building heights are needed to create the ceiling volume that can accommodate a congregation of 1,000.
"They have created a basement to get it in the ground as much as possible but because of a wash on the property they can’t go very low," Williams said.
The case is expected to go before the City Council in September, Williams
"We have purposely designed multiple steps at the top lines of the building to visually alter the appearance to one of a small complex of structures rather than appearing as one box," Wauro said.
City approval and construction are expected to take two to three years.
Church members are currently holding services at Desert Mountain High School Auditorium, 124th Street and Via Linda.
The ordinance is a set of zoning regulations adopted by the council in 1991 to guide development throughout the 134 square miles of desert and mountain areas of Scottsdale.
These areas are located north and east of the Central Arizona Project Canal.